Mythical Monday: The Valley of Headless Men by Mae Clair

The Nahanni Valley is tucked in the MacKenzie Mountain region in Northwestern Canada, a beautiful place by all accounts, but steeped in in the dusty annals of folklore and myth. First settled nine to ten thousand years ago, the area has since been dubbed “the Valley of Headless Men” due to a series of unexplained beheadings.

Looking up from the ground at spooky trees in a twilight forestAccording to legend, most native tribes avoided the region, believing it to be haunted. Rumors spread of ghosts and devils, of strange creatures that lurked in the forests. The Naha people, an inherently violent tribe, settled there regardless. During frequent raids outside of the valley, they were known to claim the heads of their victims. Their blood-soaked legacy came to abrupt end when the entire tribe inexplicably disappeared. No trace was ever discovered what became of them.

Fast forward to the 18th Century. Prospectors and miners descended on the region, lured by rumors of gold. In 1908, like many before them, brothers Frank and Willie McLeod arrived to seek their fortune. The pair gathered their gear and headed into the wilderness, but never returned. A year later their bodies were found along a riverbank, minus the heads.

Another prospector, Martin Jorgeson, burned to death in his cabin in 1917. When his skeleton was found among the charred remains, his head was missing. In 1945, a miner from Ontario was discovered dead in his sleeping bag. Like the others, he had been decapitated. In all cases, the missing heads were never found.

Had the ghosts of Naha warriors returned to inflict retribution on those who ventured into their domain? Whoever—or whatever—the culprit, the legends of beheadings left a permanent mark on the valley. Macabre place names are common. Headless Creek, Funeral Range, Deadman Valley and Headless Range, all speak of the grisly tales from which they sprang.

But unexplained beheadings aren’t the only unsolved occurrences to plague Nahanni. Many people have simply vanished without a trace. Others fortunate enough to return speak of an unseen presence, constantly watching. Rumors of mysterious lights, Bigfoot sightings, and UFOs are common. Some whisper the Nahanni Valley is a thin spot—a rare location where dimensions are easily breached by crossing through a fragile veil. Others believe the region may harbor a secret entrance to the Hollow Earth.

Riddled with hot springs, caves and gorges, this rugged terrain is frequently shrouded in mist. Perhaps a warning to stay away. Despite the gorgeous scenery, the “Valley of Headless Men” certainly isn’t a name to encourage tourism.

Hmm…would you venture there and risk the wrath of the Naha warriors?